PROPS & DISSES: Holy hot motherboards: H2O blow

By on June 11, 2013


NSA data farm (NSA.gov1)

NSA data farm (NSA.gov1)

Holy hot motherboards: H2O blow   DISS

Lost in the revelation that our own government is spying on us lies a far more sinister plot: water wasting. Now don’t laugh. The two are connected and the latter has more far-reaching implications.

Before IT geek Edward Snowden blew the whistle on two of NSA’s data collection schemes – the Verizon cell phone tap and Operation Prism – Americans lived in a blissful ignorance of Homeland Security operations and the tentacle-like arms of the Patriot Act. For some, the realization that thwarting terrorist plots might come at the expense of an Orwellian surrender of certain privacies to Big Brother is a lot to take in. Especially when the story breaks in a foreign newspaper.

But the more troublesome aspect of espionage is how much it wastes water – and, no, we’re not talking about Cheney’s favorite method of making bad guys talk.

According to NPR, the National Security Agency is putting the finishing touches on its biggest data farm to date, a gargantuan $1.2 billion complex 26 miles south of Salt Lake City. The 1.5 million-square-foot data center will feature row upon row of computer hard drives doing nothing but monitoring and capturing emails, Skype sessions, Facebook posts, phone call records and other everyday social media transactions deemed potentially harmful to the United States of America.

These high-performance computers will run balls-out, 24/7, cracking codes and storing up to five zettabytes worth of data. Zetta-what? Let’s just say a zettabyte makes a terabyte look like a floppy disk. One zettabyte is equivalent to the storage capacity of 250 billion DVDs. The new NSA data center will consume 65 megawatts of power, or enough juice to run 65,000 households.

That kind of computing power runs hot. It will take an estimated 1.5 million gallons of water a day to super-cool these desktops, at the expense of a staggering $20 million a year in maintenance. Nevermind the monetary costs for a moment – our government pisses away $20 million without breaking a sweat. Let’s back up to that 1.5 million gallons of water deal.

How much, exactly, is 1.5 million gallons of water? It seems like a lot but is it really? Suppose we begin with your own water consumption. The average person uses about 30 to 50 gallons of water per 10-minute shower every day. Assuming a high-end average of 45 gallons per day, your shower use sucks up 16,425 gallons, annually.

How about notorious water-wasters like golf courses? Audubon International estimates the average golf course uses 312,000 gallons of water a day — or a fifth of what the Utah data center will drain.

It’s astounding the NSA would build a data farm like this in a hot, desert climate like southern Utah when it could have dropped that plant in, say, Cheyenne, Wyoming, where subsidies and cold air wait in abundance. Water is a precious commodity in the West, and it’s only getting scarcer.

JHHS students put finishing touches on bully barn bound for Historical Society & Museum.

JHHS students put finishing touches on bully barn bound for Historical Society & Museum.

Bully on JHHS&M and JHHS   PROP

The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum is reaching out to the community and in return its getting a new bully barn. It’s a win-win, really, and a big fat “prop” in this paper. The Jackson Hole High School shop class students get something to work on and the museum gets a place to store its artifacts and stuff for super-cheap.

This is exactly the type of small-town partnering one would expect to find in a Meeteetse or a Kaycee. Good to see Jackson isn’t so bold and beautiful it can’t play host to people helping people spanning some three or four decades in age gap.

It’s global warming, stupid   DISS

Yale wildlife biologist Arthur Middleton took a pin to the anti-wolf crowd’s balloon with his latest findings published in the journal Ecology Letters on Tuesday. Studying the declining Clark’s Fork elk herd, Middleton’s research shows wolves were not to blame for a steady reduction in the Cody-area elk population.

Lobos are not eating elk calves; rather, cows just aren’t calving. In the presence of predator pressure, elk, like most wildlife species, should respond with increasing birth rates. In fact, the opposite is true, according to Middleton. Rocky Mountain elk average a 90 percent birthrate. The Clark’s Fork herd has been more like 59 to 70 percent and experts are not sure why, but it doesn’t seem to be wolves.

Middleton found elk encountered a wolf too infrequently (about every nine days) and responded too lackadaisically (monitored stress indicators were minimal) to say cow elk were too freaked out to birth.

The answer no one is talking about, yet, is global warming. Wildlife is first to respond to changes in climate – their very survival depends on adaptation and critters that live off the land are more in tune with Earth’s subtle changes. Elk, moose, cutthroat trout are all cold-weather species and are all experiencing mysterious population decline.

This planet’s flora and fauna already is reacting to a rise in overall global average temperature but us know-it-all humans are like the frog being brought to a slow boil. And it’s only going to get worse. The International Energy Association announced yesterday that, after crunching the numbers again, global temperatures will rise twice as fast as projected, topping out at an alarming nine-degree rise in global temps by 2020. A one-or two-degree shift is enough to cause certain species to go extinct. A nine-degree rise will kill off more elk and moose than the wolf ever could.

Middleton will discuss­ his findings 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, at Teton County Library.

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